I am pleased and humbled to accept the nomination for the position of H-Net's President-elect. Bob Cherny and I began working together as the first online editors for H-SHGAPE in 1993. I quickly discovered that participating in H-Net opened a new world for me. I soon also got involved with the editing staff of H-Women, and eventually helped to start H-SAWH and H-Childhood. It has been wonderful to be a part of the international community of scholars connected to H-Net and want to do all that I can to keep the organization moving forward.
As some editors have already noted, however, H-Net has grown so quickly that we are not doing as well as we should with many of the initiatives that are already a part of our mission. I believe that Peter Knupfer, Council members, and the organization's staff are working to fix the weaknesses. They cannot, however, do it alone. The officers and council members need to work in collaboration with the editors to prioritize the organization's needs. What can H-Net do and what can't we realistically do considering our limited staffing, pool of volunteer editors, and current base of resources? For example, it has been noted that the current format of H-Announce is a vast improvement over the many single-message announcements to editors' email boxes that preceded it. H-Announce is not user-friendly and, I fear, generally ignored by most subscribers. I have suggested a tweaking of H-Announce's format that utilizes the software that we already have in place. I hope that the change I have suggested, or something similar can be implemented soon.
Another problem is H-Review. The Review program is one of H-Net's best success stories, but its popularity has also contributed to a huge backlog of reviews that threatens the project's future. Review editors have been discussing possible solutions, but it will take the leadership of elected council members and officers to ensure that the program retains (and further improves) its reputation as a high quality, cutting edge, and very visible part of H-Net.
Resources and funding are another concern. Getting non-profit status has opened the doors for new revenue streams. I believe the tiered membership proposal is worthy of approval, even if it is not perfect. This is a start and council's should act as a watchdog to see what effect implementing this strategy has on H-Net's fundamental mission. We must be careful to guarantee that some aspects of H-Net always remain free and accessible. As an elected leader in the organization I will work to retain this principal. H-Net has always been a pioneer and leader in the effort to maintain a pool of high quality, and at some level, free intellectual property online.
Finally, I believe that expanding H-Net's outreach is vital to its future. We need to continue to become more international, but at the same time work to make the existing lists more responsive to their current base of subscribers. Adding teaching materials, research tools, and better connecting subscribers to each other and the broader community of scholars should continue to rank as the top priority. Good communication and quick responses will be vital to maintaining, and improving, the organization's role as the leader in online communication for individuals working in the Humanities and Social Sciences. As President-elect I will do my best to focus H-Net's efforts on service to the most important people in our network: the editors and subscribers.